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Forced abortion case ends as deal reached

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)

09:40, July 11, 2012

The recent controversy over a forced abortion in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province has come to an end after the family agreed on a compensation package from the local government, as a US Congressional subcommittee pointed its fingers at China's family planning policy in a hearing.

As the forced abortion case in Ankang concluded Tuesday with victims and government agreeing on 70,600 yuan ($11,089) in compensation, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee gathered human rights groups and an alleged forced abortion victim for a hearing to denounce China's family planning policy.

At the hearing, they called for an end to the policy and the practice of forced abortions, citing the Ankang case where a seven-month pregnant woman, Feng Jianmei, was forced by local authorities to abort her second child after failing to pay a 40,000 yuan fee in June.

Local family planning authorities at first claimed the abortion was "legal", but seven officials were later punished as further investigations proved the termination of Feng's pregnancy was illegally conducted.

Dissatisfied with the penalties, Feng's husband Deng Jiyuan came to Beijing in late June to seek legal help.

Zhang Kai, Deng's attorney, submitted an appeal to the Ankang police and procurators on July 2, asking authorities to file a case and start investigations into the local officials involved. However, Deng returned home during the past weekend and decided to hold negotiations with the local government agencies.

"I've given up legal appeals and agreed to take the compensation offered by the township government," Deng told the Global Times Tuesday.

"We just want our normal life back," he said.

Aside from the money, the township government has agreed to pay Feng's medical bills if she contracts serious diseases resulting from the abortion, Deng added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Population and Family Planning Commission did not comment on the US Congressional hearing as of press time.

"Forced abortion is a violation of Chinese laws and regulations, and it should be left to the Chinese government to handle, not a foreign committee," said Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Forced abortion cases come in small numbers in China. Family planning policy is based on our population situation and we can't overlook how much it contributed to the world's population control," said Tao.

"Even if the US came up with some draft resolutions, they won't affect China," he added.

A group of 15 Chinese scholars submitted an appeal to China's National People's Congress on July 5, calling for changes to be made in the current family planning law.

It is not the first time the US has held such a hearing.

When a number of US congressmen condemned strongly China's family planning policy during a hearing in December 2004, former Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao called it a "groundless attack" and said China is "firmly opposed to such completely unreasonable attacks."

"We suggest the US side think more on how to improve its own human rights record rather than continue to intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries under the pretext of human rights," he said at a press briefing back in 2004.

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